Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Lion Sleeps........

Thought I would add a post every now and then to tell you about one of my paintings... or in this case, one of my batiks.
First I can imagine some of you wondering just what that is... well to try and explain it briefly... batik is a method of resist. i.e. the wax stops colour affecting the cloth. The traditional way is to dip the cloth into dyes but in the confines of my 'studio' this is not practical; so I use silk paints and with brushes to the cloth on the frame. Melted wax is applied to the cloth in the areas where colour is required to be kept/protected. By applying successives applications of colour and wax an image can be built up from a very simple design to a more complicated piece.... such as this lion, which has about 40 successive applications of colour and wax.
It's a bit of a suicide method, as should wax plop unceremoniously in the wrong place... there's not a lot you can do to correct it. This makes for an often interesting and edge-of-your-seat session when batiking a particularly major piece.

The subject for this piece is Chandra, the male Asiatic lion at the zoo where I work. He's one of my most favourite characters in the zoo and when he first arrived at just under 3 years of age, I spent 3 treasured days sitting near his off-show enclosure watching and sketching him in preparation for the illustrations needed for the ID signage.
He's now a strapping male (about 13 years old... I think) and looks a fantastic animal and he has great spirit, nice and fiesty when he wants to be.
One day as I was walking by, I noticed him lying in the shade with his muzzle and a front paw stuck out in the bright sunshine. I loved this dramatic lighting on him and as I walked over I noticed the gorgeous colours in his mane made by the shadows and dappled light. The idea was born. Unfortunately I didn't have a frame big enough to get his paw in, as I would have liked, and to make the image smaller to fit on my frame would have lessened the impact. I had not been doing batik for long when I did this piece and as an experiment to see how far I could go in getting fine detail, it was a success. This is one of my paintings that I look back on with, not only fond memories of the subject, but with satisfaction of the work as a whole.

T minus 283 days and counting.....

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